Empowerment is considered one of the best managerial approaches to foster employees’ effectiveness, creativity, commitment, performance, and other positive work-related attitudes and behaviors while providing an essential tool for leadership development and succession planning. Empowerment involves delegation of authority, sharing of information and resources, and allowing employees to participate in decision-making processes. Empowerment practices result in positive outcomes through psychological empowerment, which comprises meaning, impact, self-determination, and competence. However, empowerment should be exercised with care, and before doing so, leaders should understand their employees’ competences, willingness, and characteristics, as well as the organizational culture and industrial dynamics. With the increasing use of information and communication technologies, inevitable influence of globalization, and continuously changing dynamics of interconnectedness among industries, the business environment has become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). In order to survive in this environment, companies try to increase diversity in their workforce to make the best use of a broad variety of skills, experiences, and opinions, thus boosting creativity and innovativeness, which makes leadership more difficult than ever.
With empowerment, the concept of delegation of power is important. Therefore, comparing the concept of personal empowerment with managerial empowerment helps in understanding that these concepts are different, although interconnected. Delegation of authority ensures that the manager transfers decision-making authority to subordinates under certain conditions. In delegation, authority is retained by the manager, who has the ultimate responsibility. On the other hand, in empowerment, authority is fully transferred to the person who is already doing the job, with all the rights and responsibilities to take the initiative as necessary.
Empowerment is also closely related but different from the concept of motivation. In motivation, decision-making authority and control stays with the manager. Empowerment, on the other hand, gives employees the opportunity to participate in management, solve problems, and participate in decision-making processes. In this context, the concepts of delegation of authority, motivation, participation in management, and job enrichment are the domain dimensions of personal empowerment, and thus they are interrelated, yet different.
It is important to create a common vision and to have common values in order to establish the empowerment process. Subordinates and supervisors need to trust each other, and empowerment needs to be seen as a philosophy, not a technique. It is necessary to create business conditions that enable the development of knowledge and skills in personnel empowerment. These conditions affect the perceptions and attitudes of the staff, such as, support, loyalty, identification, and trust. Empowering employees promotes organizational commitment, increases engagement, and reduces turnover intentions of key personnel. Because empowerment involves encouraging participation of subordinates in the decision-making process, it also helps to enhance the effectiveness of the decisions and reduce decision-making time. In the VUCA world, limited decision making could be a critical obstacle to establish and maintain sustainability in highly competitive business environments.